**Update for 2016: I found myself running over this blog post in my mind over the Christmas period. I drank so much coffee and sugary drinks, and I noticed the decline in my health almost immediately. My headaches and tiredness returned with a vengeance! That being said, I’m back to drinking lots of water, and I feel amazing only after 10 days!***
So This week’s “health” topic is about the importance of drinking water – a message that we’ve probably heard so much that it now falls on death ears. To be honest, my relationship with water only changed about a month ago…pretty bad for a healthy eating person right? lol. Before then, I probably only drank about 1L (1/4 gallon) of water a day if that!
Around a month ago, I started studying for my postgraduate clinical pharmacy diploma, and the first topic was about sodium concentrations in the body. As I read the first chapter of my clinical biochemistry book, I was gobsmacked when I read that every day our body naturally needs and uses around 1.5 – 2L of water just to maintain normal body functions! I remember stopping and immediately thinking “if I’m only drinking about a litre of water a day, my body must be running on a huuuuuuuuuuuge deficit, which also explains why my urine is never clear.” I used to think the “drink 2 L of water a day” rule to be another tale that Doctors told, but now I saw it clear as day in science, I had to change. If you are not replacing the 2L of water that your body needs to function normally, some of your body processes are suffering and not functioning normally. Everything our body does needs water, from our blood, to our cells, to breaking down our food, to proper brain function, to maintaining muscle strength, and mass, and regulating our bowels.
From that day, I can confidently say I drink at least 2L of water a day, and the health benefits are noticeable! Here are some of the things that I’ve noticed in the past month alone that I’ve been drinking more water
- Clearer skin – I’ve never really been prone to breakouts, but I did break out a bit in the first week as my body got rid of junk that had built up.
- Clear urine
- More energy & being more alert
- No more dry throats – you don’t realise how dry your throat has been until your body is properly hydrated.
- Stools that were easier to pass, more frequent, and less malodorous
- Softer, more moisturised feeling hair
- Faster growing, and stronger nails & hair
- Less headaches
The benefits really are endless, and these are only the benefits I can see externally; if only I could see how much better my body cells are functioning!
So I can’t end this post without giving you guys a few tips and things I’ve learnt about drinking water so far…
- Plan how you’re going to get your 2L (or more) or water in
- The key to maintaining proper hydration to drink small bits of water steadily throughout the day, and not lots in one go. If you drink too much water in one go, it will just come out in your urine. Small and steady drinks means your body can absorb and use the water. I drink around 500ml before work, then when I get to work, I pour a pint of water (about 500ml) and aim to drink that before lunchtime. I drink a beverage during my lunch hour, and again, after lunch I pour another pint of water and aim to drink that before I finish work at 6. I drink another 500ml glass of water at home in the evening.
- Caffeine is the killer of hydration
- We’ve heard it lots of times, but caffeine is a diuretic which means it will remove the water from your body. Being British, I love a good cup of tea every now and again, and having lived in America, I love a great cup of coffee – two not so good things for maintaining hydration. I generally stick to decaffeinated tea and it actually doesn’t taste any different. I’ve also set myself a rule that for every cup of caffeinated tea or coffee I drink, I have to drink an extra two or three glasses of water to compensate. There isn’t any scientific reason behind that ratio, it’s just what I think in my head will balance things out.
- The dryer your environment, the more water you need to drink
- This is because your skin will lose more water to the dry environment.
- Monitor the colour of your urine
- Don’t be afraid of looking in the toilet bowl to check if your urine is clear. If it’s coloured or heavily fragrant, chances are, you need to drink more water.
- The more sugar or sweets you eat, the more water you need to drink
- I actually learnt this the hard way. I fell victim to the bowl of orange flavoured jelly babies a colleague brought in to work and quickly noticed how thirsty I became after eating them. When you consume sugar, your body “dilutes” your increased sugar concentration in your blood by taking water out of your cells causing you to feel thirsty as you need to replace the lost fluids. Your body also excretes the excess sugar in your urine which causes darker urine colours, and increases the amount of times you need to use the toilet.
- Drink herbal fruit teas
- Sometimes, I just don’t want the taste of water, but I still want to stay hydrated. To do this, I brew half a mug of herbal tea and then add cold water in a pint glass and drink this. It’s healthier than drinking cordial which is packed full of sugar and other nasties which will dehydrate you anyway, has practically no calories, is herbal and it doesn’t stain your teeth. Some herbal fruit teas are organic too, which are even better. Check out my post about organic food.
- Don’t forget about the water your body gains from your food
- Even if you fall just shy of the 2L mark, don’t forget that your body absorbs water from your food too, so don’t panic. As an example, a potato is about 80% water, and strawberries are around 90% water. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will definitely help to keep you hydrated! This link has a good estimate chart of the water content in fruits and vegetables
- Reusable flasks and glasses are better than plastic bottles
- Consider the environment when you’re increasing your water intake. Bottled water may be an easy way to keep track of how much water you’re drinking, but reusable plastic water bottles and glasses are much better for our world than plastic water bottles. Don’t forget to recycle your bottles too!
So now I’d like challenge you to a month of at least 2L of water a day. If you don’t see any benefits, let me know and I will send you a personal apology gift lol. If you do, let me know by commenting on this post and sharing it 🙂